Massachusetts Daily Collegian

PVTA: Pioneer Valley Tardiness Authority

By Kellie Quinn

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Samantha Webber/Collegian

Samantha Webber/Collegian

Trying to take a Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts Transit Authority [PVTA] bus on the weekends is no easy feat. Between battling your way through the massive crowd of drunken “zoo-massers” to get a spot and then trying to maintain your balance with only the person in front of you to grab on to, it can be frustrating for anyone not drunk enough to be in that “I’m everyone’s best friend” phase. Not to mention the dreaded “we missed the bus” scenario, as that often means waiting another hour for the next one.

There are 12,000 students who live on campus at the University of Massachusetts. To have the buses arriving approximately once every 40 minutes on the weekends – and less in some cases – is a bit absurd. Sure the number of students using the buses is bound to be less considering classes are done, but that does not mean people are not trying to get somewhere else. Dinner, parties, movies, or any number of events hosted by the Registered Student Organizations [RSOs] on campus almost always occur at night. Are students in need of transportation supposed to  fend for themselves just because classes are over?

Duke University is  less than half the size of UMass with only 6400 undergraduate students and their buses run until 4 a.m. on the weekends and arrive every 10-20 minutes depending on the route. That means that the buses at Duke are not only running later into the night, but more frequently, for a population that is about 14,000 students less than ours.

Aside from convenience, providing more buses could also solve some safety issues for the PVTA. It is well known and agreed upon that distracted driving is unsafe. Noise distractions are no exception and according to the Toronto Star, “studies show that loud noise or music can slow your decision making and reaction times.” It is bad enough being the designated driver for your four friends, let alone playing that role for the PVTA on the packed buses leaving Puffton Village on the weekends. These buses are full of loud, drunk people using public transportation as a party venue. Having witnessed dance parties, singing, and people cracking beers on bus rides, I’d say there is a fair amount of unsafe distraction for the bus drivers going on here.

And what about student safety? Aside from packing oneself in a sardine can after almost being trampled, the only other options are to hail a cab, walk or take a car. Now, I may be speaking solely for myself here when I say this, but as a female I have zero interest in walking home at 2 a.m. with only my petit roommate for protection. And taxis? Please, the wait can be as long as 45 minutes for that $20 cab ride across town.

How about hopping in your car despite drinking all night? Well, considering the U.S. government reports that “3,360,000 students between the ages of 18-24 drive under the influence of alcohol,” it is very likely many students are choosing this option. No need to go into the statistics about how many people die from drunk driving accidents each year; we all know it’s bad.

And it’s not just the drunk party kids who need to get home either. There are on-campus jobs that do not get out until 3 a.m. on the weekends. Unfortunately for those students, the buses stop running around 1 a.m. Sure, some of these individuals may have cars, but certainly not all, which leaves them to either walk or call a taxi.

I understand that to increase the bus frequency and duration of bus service would be expensive and that the University is strapped for cash. But we spend money to keep the Recreation Center lit up like a Christmas tree all day and night. We spend money keeping the residential halls pumping out so much heat that students have to open the windows to cool off their rooms in January. When it comes down to it, budgeting is about priorities, and it seems the service the PVTA is providing should be a bit more of one.

Kellie Quinn is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]

 

1 Comment

One Response to “PVTA: Pioneer Valley Tardiness Authority”

  1. J on September 20th, 2011 12:53 pm

    While I agree with the spirit of the article, it seems more like a diatribe against the PVTA than an appeal to better funding and more transit solutions. The answer is not that the PVTA or UMass Transit are derelict in their duties; it’s that both are woefully underfunded. Years ago, for example, the Minuteman Express ran all day and you could ride the B43 for free year-round.

    If the University and towns in the valley are serious about reducing car dependance (as both mayoral candidates in Northampton have expressed, for instance), then we seriously need to re-evaluate how public transportation infrastructure works in the area. Signal priority for buses; more frequent, more reliable service; and other improvements will all go a long way towards improving the flow of traffic and of importantly of buses around the area. We should be encouraging people to get out of their cars and onto the bus, and we should be funding the needs of the PVTA instead of making it easier for drivers to get around in their cars.

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